With the winter freeze fast upon us, there are several opportunities to warm your home easily, effectively, and practically everywhere you look. Here are just a few simple steps to convert your home into a cozy, cost-saving, winter-warding fortress.
1. Seal those seams.
As we know, cold air will find its way into the home however it can—wasting 5% to 30% of your energy use. With the autumn’s falling temperatures, now’s the perfect time to locate those pesky drafts and stop them before the true freeze kicks in. So take a walk throughout your house and spot where the drafts are coming in. Some you’ll feel immediately; others you can detect by lighting an incense stick. You can seal basement seams and cracks with caulk, window seams with plastic insulation kits found at your local hardware store (they’re invisible to the naked eye once applied), and the bottoms of your doors with weather stripping—or even rolled-up towels. Wherever there’s a draft, there’s definitely an option available to dam it up.
2. Look for available tax credits.
You’d be surprised how many energy-efficient upgrades to your home will not only save you money on your bills, but reap in tax credit from the government. Among the many options that could get you cash back simply for having them installed or updated include: Storm doors, windows, water heaters, furnaces, programmable thermostats, insulation and more. When your home is equipped with the proper energy-efficient components by today’s standards, you’ll be rewarded for it in more ways than one.
3. Reverse your ceiling fans.
Most ceilings fans come with a handy switch that makes them spin clockwise instead, which recirculates the rising hot air back down into your living space. This simple trick can cut your heating costs as much as 10%.
4. Change your furnace filter.
It’s important to change your filter once a month to prevent unhealthy airborne particles from infesting the home. There are even modern permanent filters on the market today that can remove up to 99.97% of particles in the air.
5. Shut off or empty your A/C and outer water lines.
Drain any outdoor hoses, remove them, and stow them neatly for next season; shut off the water supply to your outer hose bibs (locate the twist valves on your water pipes near the outer walls of your home to do this); drain any air conditioner pipes and make sure water isn’t pooled in equipment that could potentially freeze.
6. Attic Insulation.
Sounds odd, but a well-insulated attic, especially when done by professional contractor, should actually maintain a cold temperature. Why? If poorly or improperly insulated, your attic will absorb unwanted heat from the home below, which can warm layers of snow on the roof in a stovetop effect. This can lead to untimely melts and ice dams forming near the gutters. Which brings us to the next step.
7. Clean your gutters.
With falling leaves now accumulating atop our homes, now’s the time to clean them out from the gutters. Whether it’s done personally or professionally, cleaning gutters will allow for the proper flow of meltwater away from your home, rather than collecting and causing ice dams, leaks, or potential damage to your roof.
8. Give your furnace a tune up.
To ensure your furnace runs efficiently and flawlessly all season long, call your heating company for a tune-up and maintenance check. The earlier you call the better as colder weather leads to busier schedules for technicians.
9. Dress appropriately.
A light sweater can make you 2 degrees warmer. A heavy sweater? Four degrees. And let’s not forget our blankets. The old-fashioned power of layering, obvious as it seems, will help us resist the temptation to adjust the thermostat or make any impulsive decisions that could be otherwise avoided.
10. The most failsafe option of all: Call a certified professional.
A certified contractor can perform the most thorough energy audits for your home, provide the most thorough, timely advice and address every cold weather situation with veteran experience. There’s no substitute.
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